Beach enthusiasts have always depended on the wooden steps and handicap ramp at the city’s 27th Avenue Beachfront Park to reach the beach.
But ever since a storm forced the city to close the ramp for repairs in October, beach access has become a problem.
Individuals who utilize wheelchairs and those with fishing carts and bicycles also encounter a challenge. It is not convenient for beach enthusiasts who carry coolers, carts, fishing equipment, and other bulky items to access the beach. They are required to utilize the stairs after 7 p.M. (Once the ramp for vehicles is closed) in order to enter or exit the beach. Although this serves as an alternative to the ramp for people with disabilities during the daytime, the sole other level access point is via the county-operated vehicular beach approach.
Therefore, once 7 p.M. Arrives, individuals who visit the beach must either locate an alternative entrance or depart from the beach.
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The 27th Avenue Beachfront Park, situated at 3701 S. Atlantic Ave, provides residents with various amenities such as restrooms and open-air showers, picnic areas covered by sail shades, racquetball and basketball courts, a boardwalk, and designated parking spaces. This park is solely maintained by the city.
Kevin and Suzanne, local residents who frequently use the ramp and stairs at the park, were accompanied by their son and a couple who needed help bringing their belongings down the stairs onto the beach. The couple wanted to play basketball at Park Beachfront with their friends.
“Having the ramp access would be wonderful,” expressed Suzanne Cruser.
“But they assisted us in bringing everything down,” Kevin Cruser included.
Suzanne Cruser mentioned that she has recently undergone a surgical operation that makes her reluctant to utilize staircases.
She mentioned that there are definitely some other individuals who may have health concerns and are unable to navigate stairs very well, and who would appreciate a back ramp that they can easily see and access.
As per the spokesperson of the city, Philip Veski, the handicap ramp and stairs are going to be substituted.
“The city will put out a construction bid in early October/late November to get approval from the City Commission in December, and begin construction in February before the completion of the next sea turtle nesting year, which starts around May.”
Veski stated, “The ramp is accessible around the clock. The closest publicly owned pedestrian ramp from 27th Avenue Beachfront Park is 1.9 miles to the north through Marianne Clancy Park located at 901 S. Atlantic Ave.”
Other nearby, county-operated, smaller-step entrances along Atlantic Avenue can be found on Matthews Avenue and Oyster Quay.
Vehicular ramp closure
The county closed the vehicular approach ramp at 27th Avenue in December last year and reopened it in July. For nearly six months, the only way for residents to access the beach was through the park’s stairs.
Fixing the vehicle ramp has been a worry for the county for many years.
On February 20, 2018, the Volusia County Council approved the task assignment for Inc. Consultants & Engineers Gulf to redesign the approach to coastal services engineering.
The length of the storm also affects the impacts, and the county suffers more due to tide-based closures than any other ramp. The county’s Division of Coastal’s seawalls, which extend approximately 75 feet east of the adjacent beach, are more susceptible, and the ramp services the southern limits of the drivable beach.
The ramp at the base of the coastal division document could potentially be temporarily closed for repairs until enough significant erosion has occurred. This was evident, for example, after a harsh Nor’easter in January 2018.
In February 2020, another tempest resulted in additional wearing away and the incline had to temporarily shut down once more.
To diminish the effects of future storms and decrease closures caused by high tide, the repair project endeavored to modify the approach by moving it towards the west and increasing the steepness of the ramp. This task was finished in July.
The county spent around $670,000 on the project. The city will finance the repair project for the park’s handicap ramp and stairs.